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Humble beginnings and hard work pay off

LAURA JAMESON / THE EXPRESS Vehicles are bid on at the CPAA.

MACKEYVILLE — It was 32 years ago when Grant Miller and his wife Jeanne, started an endeavor which over time would become one of Clinton County’s most successful businesses — the Central Pennsylvania Auto Auction.

Located at 41 Airstrip Drive, near the Lock Haven exit off Interstate 80, CPAA first opened its doors in August of 1987.

But, to get the whole story, you’ll have to go back in time even further to the 1960’s, and picture a young Grant Miller working at the Ford dealership in Lock Haven.

Grant’s son, Vice President and COO of CPAA, Doug Miller, loves to tell his Dad’s story.

“At the time he started out, it was the local Ford dealer in town my Dad worked for. Then he went into the used car business himself on Hogan Boulevard in Lock Haven, and later became a Chrysler dealer in town. He sold out of the Chrysler business in the early 1980’s and then went to work for a small auto auction in Danville. Dad left there in 1987 and that’s when he started our own auction from the ground up. He purchased land from a local farmer in June, and three months later we had our first sale,” Doug said.

LAURA JAMESON / THE EXPRESS The auto auction draws a crowd each Thursday as dealers search for vehicles.

Those humble beginnings and hard work paid off.

“Our original facility consisted of three lanes and was situated on 10 acres,” said Doug. “Today we have a 30,000 square foot, five-lane facility which sits on 65 acres. We also have an onsite reconditioning building where we offer cleanup services and do mechanical repairs for our customers. Plus, we own and operate a fleet of 16 commercial vehicles that we offer inbound and outbound transportation services for our clientele.”

The CPAA employs 50 full time workers, and on Thursday sale days, they have a crew of about 130 to keep things flowing.

“Currently we offer 500-600 units a week, which is really something, seeing that when we first started in business, we only offered 150-200 units a week,” explained Doug. “We have a very dedicated staff that do an excellent job,” Doug said with a smile. “We couldn’t do it without each and every one of them; it’s a total team effort.”

Those who aren’t in “the know” might wonder who can purchase vehicles at the auction. Doug laughed and said, “only new and used car dealers are able to buy the vehicles consigned for auction.”

Even though the Central Pennsylvania Auto Auction is the only vehicle auction that most of us from the area are familiar with, it is one of about 20 other auto auctions in Pennsylvania, and according to Doug, “it is a very competitive industry,” but nonetheless, the Millers try to keep it personal.

Yes, CPAA offers all the bells and whistles that come with a modern-day auto auction – A full service in-house transportation department, reconditioning facility, Penn DOT title department, simulcast bidding, post-sale inspections and a full service cafeteria, but the only thing they pride themselves on is how they connect with their patrons.

“The interaction with our customers is what I enjoy most,” he affirmed. “In this business, we have the opportunity to meet people from all over the country. We treat our customers as if they are part of our family.”

It is a well-known fact that Grant Miller is a classic car fanatic and has a rather impressive personal collection of vintage and rare automobiles, so it is no surprise that once a year, for the past 19 years, CPAA hosts a Classic/Antique/Collector car auction. Buyers, sellers and spectators from all over the United States come to the Central Pennsylvania countryside to check out what Grant has in store. The event is open to the public and is well attended. In past years, the classic car auction took in over $7 million in sales. This year’s antique sale will be held July 16 – 18.

To learn more about the Central Pennsylvania Auto Auction, where their slogan is “Customer Service is our Top Priority,” please visit their website at cpaautoauction.com.

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